chapter  4
Malawi: A Historical Study of Religion, Political Leadership, and State Power
BySylvia M. Jacobs
Pages 15

In precolonial Malawi, there was harmony between religion and politics. Traditionally, religion and politics had played a major role in the lives of the people of Malawi; the very nature of the society linked the religious and secular worlds. Religious loyalty and ethnic or political allegiance were inseparable; they had a collective identity. During both the precolonial and colonial periods in Nyasaland, African political and religious leaders and their institutions, along with Europeans, were in the forefront of the movement for the abolition of the slave trade, spread of Christianity, protest against the exploitation of indigenous people, and resistance to the abuse of state power. Religion played a major role in the ideology of these African political leaders because most of them had been educated in mission schools. As this case study has shown, religion could be an explosive force in relation to political leadership and state power.